Israel and Jordan: Sweatshop Bedfellows

As the following report observes, mention sweatshops and it is not the Middle East that immediately springs to mind – but that is exactly what has been occurring.

Two Israeli entrepreneurs have been running a sweatshop in Jordan that produces clothes for the Israeli brands Irit, Bonita, Jump and Pashut.

According to the The National Labor Committee, a U.S.-based workers’ rights organization, the Musa Garments factory will be charged with “human trafficking, abuse, forced overtime, primitive dorm conditions, imprisonment and forcible deportations of foreign guest workers.”

Purportedly owned by Mr. Musa, in reality the owners are Jack Braun and Moshe Cohen from Tel Aviv.

Located in the Al Hassan industrial area on the outskirts of Irbid, the sweatshop employs 132 people from Bangladesh, 49 from India and 27 Jordanians, as well as innumerable Chinese, Sri Lankans and Nepalese.

Once ensconced in the factory the management takes away the worker’s passports for the three-year period; should the workers request their passports, the return is denied and their human rights thereby violated.

Working up to 13 hour days, seven days a week, missed shifts incur the loss of three day’s wages.

Naturally denials have sprung from the Israeli side – management and brands alike – faster than the needle on the worker’s machines.

Even as far back as 2006 it was rumored that an Israeli-owned factory was in operation near Irbid, raising the big question of whether the authorities in Jordan knew of the exploitation? And if so, why did they fail to intervene?

As Desmond Tutu once noted: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

So, did profit win out over principles?

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This entry was posted on August 10, 2009 by in Israel, Jordan, Middle East and tagged , , , , .
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